This four-legged robot is amazing…and simply terrifying. You will have to watch the video to see what I mean, and trust me, you definitely want to watch this video (warning in advance, turn your speakers down. The sound is rather loud and unpleasant).
From the developers, Boston Dynamics (they were funded by DARPA’s “Maximum Mobility and Manipulation” program):
“WildCat is a four-legged robot being developed to run fast on all types of terrain. So far WildCat has run at about 16 mph on flat terrain using bounding and galloping gaits. The video shows WildCat’s best performance so far.”
“The Cheetah robot has an articulated back that flexes back and forth on each step, increasing its stride and running speed, much like the animal does. The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a high-speed treadmill in the laboratory where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. The next generation Cheetah robot, WildCat, is designed to operate untethered.”
[Reference: Boston Dynamics]
It’s so fast, in fact, that it comes in as the fastest legged robot in history—a record once held by MIT. Its robot could travel 13.1 MPH (21.1 km/h or 5.9 m/s) and that was in 1989. A lot has changed for the better since then.
This isn’t the first robotic technology developed by the team at Boston Dynamics. WildCat now joins a family of trans-species robots. There is a human robot, named ATLAS, a canine (delightfully called “BigDog“) and now an over-sized cat. In the future, Boston Dynamics and DARPA hope to develop a robot that can traverse uneven terrain at speeds exceeding 50 MPH (80 km/h), which could have implications for robotic probes (like Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity) used to explore other worlds.
The development from the first robot to the most recent shows how competent (and time efficient) the team members employed by Boston Dynamics are. As such, as we see even more stunning developments in the future, additional uses for such technologies will come to light.
For more information about WildCat, visit their website here.